Part 1 out of 5
Scanned by Charles Keller with
OmniPage Professional OCR software
donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226.
Contact Mike Lough
PATHOLOGICAL LYING, ACCUSATION, AND SWINDLING
A STUDY IN FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY
WILLIAM HEALY, A.B., M.D.
DIRECTOR, PSYCHOPATHIC INSTITUTE, JUVENILE COURT, CHICAGO
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR NERVOUS AND MENTAL DISEASES
CHICAGO POLICLINIC; AUTHOR OF ``THE
MARY TENNEY HEALY, B.L.
MERRITT W. PINCKNEY
JUDGE OF THE JUVENILE COURT
``Bonus et sapiens et peritus utilitatis dignitatisque civilis.''
This volume is one of a series of Monograph Supplements to the
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The publication of the
Monographs is authorized by the American Institute of Criminal
Law and Criminology. Such a series has become necessary in
America by reason of the rapid development of criminological
research in this country since the organization of the Institute.
Criminology draws upon many independent branches of science, such
as Psychology, Anthropology, Neurology, Medicine, Education,
Sociology, and Law. These sciences contribute to our
understanding of the nature of the delinquent and to our
knowledge of those conditions in home, occupation, school,
prison, etc., which are best adapted to elicit the behavior that
the race has learned to approve and cherish.
This series of Monographs, therefore, will include researches in
each of these departments of knowledge insofar as they meet our
It is confidently anticipated that the series will stimulate the
study of the problems of delinquency, the State control of which
commands as great expenditure of human toil and treasure as does
the control of constructive public education.
ROBERT H. GAULT,
Editor of the Journal of Criminal COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATION
Law and Criminology, OF THE
Northwestern University. AMERICAN INSTITUTE
FREDERIC B. CROSSLEY, OF CRIMINAL
Northwestern University. LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY.
JAMES W. GARNER,
University of Illinois.
Careful studies of offenders make group-types stand out with
distinctness. Very little advancement in the treatment of
delinquents or criminals can be expected if typical
characteristics and their bearings are not understood. The group
that our present work concerns itself with is comparatively
little known, although cases belonging to it, when met, attract
much attention. It is to all who should be acquainted with these
striking mental and moral vagaries, particularly in their
forensic and psychological significances, that our essay is
addressed. In some cases vital for the administration of
justice, an understanding of the types of personality and of
behavior here under discussion is a prime necessity.
The whole study of characterology or the motivation of conduct is
extremely new, and there are many indications of immense values
in uncovered fields. Some appreciation of this fact may be
gained from the following pages which show the possibility of
tracing one form of behavior to its source.
We have laid under contribution practically the entire literature
on the subject, almost none of which is in English, and also the
thorough-going longitudinal case studies made by the Juvenile
Psychopathic Institute of Chicago. In the latter material there
was found much of value bearing upon the subject of lying, false
accusation, and swindling of pathological character.
Our institute, later taken over officially by the Juvenile Court
of Cook County, was for five years maintained upon a foundation
provided by Mrs. W. F. Dummer.
MARY TENNEY HEALY
II. PREVIOUS STUDIES
III. CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL LYING AND SWINDLING
IV. CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL ACCUSATION
V. CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL LYING IN BORDER-LINE MENTAL TYPES
INDEX OF AUTHORS
INDEX OF TOPICS
PATHOLOGICAL LYING, ACCUSATION, AND SWINDLING
Through comparison of the literature on pathological lying with
our own extensive material we are led to perceive the insistent
necessity for closer definition of the subject than has been
heretofore offered. Reasons for excluding types earlier
described as pathological liars will be found throughout our
work. Better definition goes hand in hand with better
understanding, and it is only natural that formal, detailed
contemplation of the subject should lead to seeing new lines of
Definition: Pathological lying is falsification entirely
disproportionate to any discernible end in view, engaged in by a
person who, at the time of observation, cannot definitely be
declared insane, feebleminded, or epileptic. Such lying rarely,
if ever, centers about a single event; although exhibited in very
occasional cases for a short time, it manifests itself most
frequently by far over a period of years, or even a life time.
It represents a trait rather than an episode. Extensive, very
complicated fabrications may be evolved. This has led to the
synonyms:--mythomania; pseudologia phantastica.
It is true that in the previous literature, under the head of
pathological liars, cases of epilepsy, insanity, and mental
defect have been cited, but that is misleading. A clear
terminology should be adopted. The pathological liar forms a
species by himself and as such does not necessarily belong to any
of these larger classes. It is, of course, scientifically
permissible, as well as practically valuable, to speak of the
epileptic or the otherwise abnormal person through his disease
engaging in pathological lying, but the main classification of an
individual should be decided by the main abnormal condition.
A good definition of pathological accusation follows the above
lines. It is false accusation indulged in apart from any obvious
purpose. Like the swindling of pathological liars, it appears
objectively more pernicious than the lying, but it is an
expression of the same tendency. The most striking form of this
type of conduct is, of course, self-accusation. Mendacious self-
impeachment seems especially convincing of abnormality. Such
falsification not infrequently is episodic.
The inclusion of swindling in our discussion is due to the
natural evolution of this type of conduct from pathological
lying. Swindling itself could hardly be called a pathological
phenomenon, since it is readily explicable by the fact that it is
entered into for reasons of tangible gain, but when it is the
product of the traits shown by a pathological liar it, just as
the lying itself, is a part of the pathological picture. It is
the most concrete expression of the individual's tendencies.
This has been agreed to by several writers, for all have found it
easy to trace the development of one form of behavior into the
other. As Wulffen says, ``Die Gabe zu Schwindeln ist eine `Lust
am Fabulieren.' '' Over and over again we have observed the
phenomenon as the pathological liar gradually developed the
tendency to swindle.
Notwithstanding the grave and sensational social issues which
arise out of pathological lying, accusation, and swindling, there
is very little acquaintance with the characteristics of cases
showing this type of behavior, even by the people most likely to
meet the problems presented. Lawyers, or other professional
specialists have slight knowledge of the subject. Perhaps this
is due to the fact that the pathological lying does not follow
the usual lines of abnormal human behavior, unless it be among
the insane where other symptoms proclaim the true nature of the
case. Another reason for the slight acquaintance with the
subject is the fact that almost nothing has been written on it in
The important part which behavior of this type sometimes plays in
court work is witnessed to by the records of our own cases as
well as those cited in the previous literature. The legal issues
presented by pathological lying may be exceedingly costly. These
facts make it important that the well-equipped lawyer, as well as
the student of abnormal psychology, be familiar with the
specific, related facts. For such students the cardinal point of
recognition of this class of conduct may at once be stated to be
its apparent baselessness.
The only method by which good understanding may be obtained of
the types of personality and mentality involved in pathological
lying, accusation, and swindling, as well as of the genetics of
these tendencies, is by the detailed reading of typical case
histories. In this fact is found the reason for the presentation
of this monograph. Appreciation of the nature of the phenomena
can only be obtained through acquaintance with an entire career.
Any of us may be confronted by fabrications so consistent as to
leave at one or several interviews the impression of truth.
Our selection of literature to summarize needs no explanation.
We have simply taken all that we could find which specifically
bears on the problem. Lying, in general, especially as a form of
delinquency, has received attention at the hands of some authors,
notably Ferriani and Duprat. The falsifications and
phantasies of children and adolescents have been dealt with by
Stanley Hall. None of these goes into the important, narrower
field with which we are here concerned. The foreign literature
is vitally important in its opening up of the subject, but from
the standpoint of modern psychopathology it does not adequately
cover the ground.
 Ferriani, Lino, ``L'Enfance criminelle.'' Milan, 1894.
(Trans. Minderjahrige Verbrecher. Berlin, 1896.)
 Duprat, G.-L., ``Le mensonge.'' Alcan, Paris, 1903.
 Hall, G. Stanley, ``Children's Lies.'' Amer. Journal of
Psychology, Jan. 1890; pp. 59-70.
The fabrications, often quite clever, of the clearly insane,
which in earlier literature are confounded with pathological
lying, we have discriminated against as not being profitable for
us to discuss here, while not denying, however, the possibility
in some instances of lies coexisting with actual delusions. We
well remember a patient, a brilliant conversationalist and letter
writer, but an absolutely frank case of paranoia, whom we had not
seen for a period during which she had concocted a new set of
notions involving even her own claim to royal blood, confronting
us with a merry, significant smile and the remark, ``You don't
believe my new stories, do you?''
A short statement on the relation of lying to delinquency may be
of interest here. Ferriani's discussion of the lying of 500
condemned juvenile offenders, with classification of their lies,
ranging from self-defense, weakness, and fancy, to nobility of
purpose, does not include our field. Nor does he leave much room
for appreciation of the fact we very definitely have observed,
namely, that plenty of young offenders are robust speakers of the
truth. Our analysis of the delinquencies of 1000 young
repeated offenders carefully studied by us does not tell the
proportion of truth tellers as distinguished from liars, but it
does give the number in which lying was a notable and excessive
trait. The total number of males studied was 694, of females
306. Ages ranged from 6 to 22; average about 16 years.
 loc. cit.
 Vide p. 140, in chapter on Statistics, William Healy, ``The
Individual Delinquent.'' Little, Brown, and Co. Boston, 1915.
Lying--counted only when excessive and a 104 80
notorious characteristic of the individual, (15%) (26%)
False accusations--only recorded when of an 5 16
excessive and dangerous sort, (.7%) (5%)
The exact number of pathological liars is not determinable in our
series because of the shading of this lying into other types. It
would be safe to say that 8 or 10 of the 1000 were genuine cases
of pathological lying according to our definition, that 5 more
engaged in pathological false accusations without a notorious
career in other kinds of lying. Examples of borderline mental
cases showing fantastic lying and accusations are given in our
special chapter. Some of the cases of pathological lying given
in this work do not belong to the series of 1000 cases analyzed
for statistical purposes. The extraordinary number of times
several of these individuals appeared in court (resembling in
this respect the European case histories) shows that the total
amount of trouble caused by this class is not in the least
represented by their numerical proportion among offenders.
We have purposely limited our own material for presentation.
Here, as elsewhere, we insist on the value of genetics and
consequently have busied ourselves at length with those cases
where we could gain something like an adequate conception of the
antecedents in family and developmental histories and where some
measure of the psychogenetic features could be taken. Cases of
older individuals with their prolonged and often picturesque
careers, equivalent to those recounted in European literature, we
have left strictly alone. One ever finds that the older the
individual the less one can learn satisfactorily of beginnings of
tendencies, just on account of the unreliability of the principal
actor in the drama. The cases of older swindlers at first sight
seem to offer much for the student of criminalistics, if only for
purely descriptive purposes, but in the literature we have failed
to find any satisfactory studies of the formative years of such
careers. By taking instances of younger pathological liars, such
as we have studied, the natural progress into swindling can be
In court work we have been brought face to face with many cases
of false accusation and, of course, with plenty of the usual kind
of lying. Where either of these has been entered into by way of
revenge or in belief that it would aid in getting out of trouble,
no further attention has been paid to it from the standpoint of
pathological lying. Our acquaintance with some professional
criminals, particularly of the sneak-thief or pick-pocket class,
has taught us that living conditions for the individual may be
founded on whole careers of misrepresentation and lies--for very
understandable reasons. Self-accusations may sometimes be
evolved with the idea of gaining directly practical results, as
when a lover or a comrade is shielded, or when there is danger of
a larger crime being fastened on the self-incriminator.
In selection and treatment of our material we have confined
ourselves as closely as possible to the definition first given in
this chapter--a definition that after some years of observation
we found could be made and held to. While we would not deny that
some of our cases may eventually find their way into an insane
hospital, still none of them, except some we have enumerated
under the name of border-line types, has so far shown any
indication of this. That some of our cases have more or less
recovered from a strongly-marked and prolonged inclination to
falsify is a fact of great importance for treatment and
We see neither reason for including insane cases nor for
overlapping the already used classifications which are based on
more vital facts than the symptom of lying. Our use of abnormal
cases in our chapter, ``Illustrations of Border-Line Types,''
will be perfectly clear to those who read these cases. They
represent the material not easily diagnosed, sometimes after long
observation by professional people, or else they are clearly
abnormal individuals who, by the possession of certain
capacities, manage to keep their heads well above the level of
social incompetency as judged by the world at large.
We have introduced only the cases where we have had ample proof
that the individual had been given to excessive lying of our
peculiar type. In the court room and working with delinquents
outside the court, it is in rare instances totally impossible to
know where the truth finally rests; such have been left out.
Then, too, we omit cases in which false accusations have about
them the shadow of even a suspicion of vindictiveness. False
accusations of young children against parents would hardly seem
to have such a basis, and yet in some instances this fact has
come out clearly. Grudge-formation on the part of young
individuals has all through our work been one of the
extraordinary findings; capacity for it varies tremendously in
Several forms of excessive lying, particularly those practised by
children and adolescents, are not discussed by us because they
are largely age phenomena and only verge upon the pathological as
they are carried over into wider fields of conduct. The
fantasies of children, and the almost obsessional lying in some
young adolescents, too, we avoid. There is much shading of
typical pathological lying into, on the one hand, the really
insane types, and, on the other hand, into the lying which is to
be explained by quite normal reactions or where the tendency to
mendacity is only partially developed.
It has been a matter of no small interest to us that in planning
this monograph we conceived it necessary to consider part of our
material under the head of episodic pathological lying and that
later we had to omit this chapter. Surely there had been
cases--so it seemed to us at first--where purposeless lying had
been indulged in for a comparatively short time, particularly
during the adolescent period, without expression of a
prevaricating tendency before or after this time. When we came
to review our material with this chapter in mind we found no
sufficient verification of the fact that there was any such thing
as episodic pathological lying, apart from peculiar
manifestations in cases of epilepsy, hysteria, and other mental
abnormalities. A short career of extensive lying, not
unfrequently met with in work for juvenile courts and other
social agencies, seems, judging from our material, to be always
so mixed up with other delinquencies or unfortunate sex
experiences that the lying, after all, cannot be regarded as
purposeless. It is indulged in most often in an attempt to
disguise undesirable truths. That false accusations and even
self-accusations are engaged in for the same purpose goes without
saying. The girl who donned man's clothes, left home and lived
for months a life of lies was seeking an adventure which would
offset intolerable home conditions. The young woman who after
seeing something of the pleasures of the world was placed in a
strict religious home where she told exaggerated stories about
her own bad behavior, was endeavoring to get more freedom
elsewhere. A young fellow whom we found to be a most persistent
and consistent liar was discovered to have been already well
schooled in the art of professional criminalistic
self-protection. So it has gone. Investigation of each of these
episodic cases has shown the fabrications to emanate either from
a distinctly abnormal personality or to partake of a character
which rules them out of the realm of pathological lying. In our
cases of temporary adolescent psychoses lying was rarely found a
puzzling feature; the basic nature of the case was too easily
A fair question to ask at this point is whether pathological
lying is ever found to be the only delinquency of the given
individual. We should hesitate to deny the possibility of its
being the sole offense, but in our study of a long list of cases,
and after review of those reported by other authors, it seems
practically impossible to find a case of this. The tendencies
soon carry the person over to the production of other
delinquencies, and if these do not come in the category of
punishable offenses, at least, through the trouble and suffering
caused others, they are to be regarded essentially as misconduct.
The reverse of the above question deserves a word or two of
attention; are there marked cases of delinquency which do not
show lying? Surveying the figures of Ferriani who enumerated
thousands of lies, belonging to his nine classes of
prevarications, which a group of 500 young offenders indulged in,
one would think that all delinquents are liars many times over.
But as a matter of fact we have been profoundly astonished to
discover that a considerable percentage of the cases we have
studied, even of repeated offenders, have proved notably
truthful. Occasionally the very person who will engage in a
major form of delinquency will hesitate to lie. Our experience
shows this to be less true, however, of sex delinquency than
perhaps of any other. This statement is based on general
observations; the accurate correlations have not been worked up.
Occasionally the professional criminal of many misdeeds is proud
of his uprightness in other spheres of behavior, including
veracity. But even here one would have to classify carefully,
for it is obvious that the typical swindler would find lying his
best cloak of disguise. On the other hand, a bold safe-blower
may look down with scorn upon a form of criminality which demands
 loc. cit.
Realizing that pathological lying is a type of delinquency, and
following the rule that for explanation of conduct tendencies one
must go to youthful beginnings, we have attempted to gain the
fullest possible information about the fundamentals of
developmental and family history, early environment, and early
mental experiences. Fortunately we have often been able to
obtain specific and probably accurate data on heredity. The many
cases which have been only partially studied are not included.
Successive cross-section studies have been made in a number of
cases, and it has been possible to get a varying amount of
after-history. Observational, historical, and analytical data
thus accumulated have given us a particularly favorable
opportunity for discerning the bases of this special delinquent
tendency. The results of the various kinds of social treatment
which have been undertaken are not the least interesting of our
To enumerate the results obtained on the many mental tests given
in most cases seems quite unnecessary for the purpose of this
monograph. We have referred to a few points of special interest
and rarely have designated the results on tests in our series.
In general, the reader probably will be better off with merely
the statement of the principal findings and of the mental
Of much interest for the present subject is the development of
psychological studies of testimony or report. Because of the
natural expectation that the pathological liar might prove to be
an unreliable witness our studies on this point will be offered
in detail. For years we have been giving a picture memory test
on the order of one used extensively abroad. This ``Aussage''
Test is the one described as Test VI in our monograph on
Practical Mental Classification. More recently our studies on
the psychology of testimony have led us into wider fields of
observation, and here the group of cases now under discussion may
have to stand by themselves. The picture, the record of
testimony on which is given in some detail in our case histories,
is that of a butcher's shop with objects and actions that are
universally comprehended. After careful and fair explanation of
what is about to be undertaken, the picture is exposed for ten
seconds, and then the examinee is asked to give a free recital of
all he saw. When he states that no more is remembered he is
questioned on omitted details. (All told, there are about 50
details of varying importance in the picture.) During the
progress of this part of the examination he is asked if he saw 7
objects which might well be in a butcher shop, but which are not
in the picture. This is the test for susceptibility to
suggestion. All points are carefully scored. Norms on this
test, as on many others, it seems hardly fair to give by
averages--there is much variation according to mentality and even
personality groups. Practically all of our cases of pathological
lying range above the age of young childhood, so it is not
necessary here to discuss the characteristics of young children's
testimony. Perhaps it is sufficient to say that the ordinary
individual recalls voluntarily or upon questioning upwards of 20
items, and does not give incorrect items to any extent. On
questioning he may perhaps accept one or two of the seven
suggestions, but when details in general are asked for he does
not add fictional items more than are accounted for by some
little slip of memory. One can find definite types of
intellectual honesty, even among children of 10 or 12 years of
age, when there is no tampering with the truth; if an item has
not been observed, there is no effort to make it seem otherwise.
For discussion of the results on this test among our pathological
liars we refer to our chapter on conclusions.
 ``Tests for Practical Mental Classification,'' by William
Healy and Grace M. Fernald, Monograph No. 54. Psychological
Review Pub. Co., 1911, Princeton University, Princeton, N. J.
The short summary of causative factors given at the end of the
case study deals only with the factors of delinquency. To avoid
misinterpretation of the coordinated facts, what they are focused
upon should ever be remembered. The statement of these
ascertained factors brings out many incidental points which
should be of interest to lawyers and other students of
It should be needless to state to our professional readers that
the personalities represented in our case histories are entirely
fictitious, but that alterations have been made only in such
facts as will not impair scientific values. We confess to no
particular pleasure in writing up this rather sordid material;
the task is undertaken because such studies offer the only way to
gain that better understanding which is necessary for adequate
treatment of special types of human beings.
The subject of pathological lying was first definitely brought to
the attention of the medical and legal professions by the studies
of Delbruck. The aim of this work was to follow the
development of a symptom but little commented upon up to this
time, a symptom, as he says, found in every healthy person in
slight degree, but in some cases rising to pathological
significance and perhaps dominating the entire picture of
abnormal traits--thus becoming pathognomonic. This symptom he at
the outset calls lying.
 ``Die pathologische Luge und die psychisch abnormen
Schwindler. Eine Untersuchung Uber den allmahlichen Uebergang
eines normalen psychologischen Vorgangs in ein pathologisches
Symptom, fur Aerzte und Juristen.'' Pp. 131, Stuttgart, 1891.
Through an elaborate and exhaustive investigation of the lies
told by five patients over a period of years, he came to the
conclusion that the form of falsifying in these cases deserves a
new and separate name. It was not ordinary lying, or delusion,
or false memory, these words express only part of the conception;
hence he coined the new term, pseudologia phantastica, to cover
the species of lying with which he was concerned. Later German
writers have also adopted his terminology.
To emphasize the method by which he arrived at this conclusion
and to gain at the same time some knowledge of the problems he
dealt with, we may review in bare outline his case-studies.
The first patient presented by Delbruck was an Austrian
maid-servant who in her wanderings through Austria and
Switzerland had played at various times the roles of Roumanian
princess, Spaniard of royal lineage, a poor medical student, and
the rich friend of a bishop. Her lying revealed a mixture of
imagination, boastfulness, deception, delusion, and
dissimulation. She romanced wonderfully about her royal birth
and wrote letters purporting to be from a cardinal to herself.
She fled disguised as a man from an educational institution to
Switzerland where her sex was discovered. It appeared that she
was subject to contrary sex feelings and thought of herself as a
man. She was under the observation of Krafft-Ebing at one time.
He considered it at least as a case of paranoia. Others had
determined the girl to be a psychopath who indulged in
simulations and lies. Delbruck denominated it a case of direct
lying with a tendency to phantasies, delusions, and
dissimulations. Delbruck from this case argues that a mixture of
lies and delusions is possible, comparing such a state with
dreaming and with the hypnotic condition in which one follows the
suggestion of the hypnotizer and is still aware of the fact. It
was evident at times that this girl half believed her own
stories, then again that she had forgotten her former lies. In
her, Delbruck considers perverted sex feeling and hysteria
revealed a brain organization abnormal from birth. There was the
instinctive tendency to lie.
The second patient, an epileptic girl, had been many times
imprisoned and also sent to the Charite for examination into her
sanity before Delbruck saw her. Her peculiar method was to
approach strangers, claiming to be a relative coming from another
city to visit. If cordially received she would stay as long as
her welcome lasted, then depart taking with her any of their
possessions her fancy chose. Many prominent physicians examined
her and were unable to decide as to her responsibility; judges
and others said she was a willful deceiver, a refined swindler.
Delbruck, looking deeper, found that she was suffering from
hysteria, having hystero-epileptic seizures with following
delirium, or rather twilight states. Though her delinquencies
seemed to show cunning and skill, a careful investigation
revealed the fact that this was merely aberrant. Generally her
thieving was undertaken in feebleminded fashion; many times she
stole things worthless to herself. Evidences of her pathological
mentality were that she would give orders for groceries, would
buy children's clothes, or send for a physician under an assumed
name. She might not go back for the groceries, but after
ordering them would say she would return with the carriage. The
characteristic fact throughout her career was that she wished to
appear to be some one wealthier, more influential than she was.
Delbruck classifies her as high-grade feebleminded, suffering
from convulsive attacks and peculiar states of consciousness,
with a morbid tendency to lying. She possessed no power to
realize the culpable nature of her acts when she was performing
His third patient as a boy appeared normal both mentally and
physically. In his youth he went through the gymnasium and then
studied theology. He spent money very freely on clothing and
books, but at this period neither stole nor lied. After
finishing his theological studies, he preached in his home town
and was regarded as a young man of great promise. Then came a
change; he began to write strange letters, telling of some
positions offered him, he borrowed money freely from relatives
and friends who were willing to give because they believed in his
coming career. When studied, it was concluded by Delbruck that
this was a case of constitutional psychosis, hysteria, moral
insanity, and psychopathy--all of these forms being interrelated.
Outside of masturbation, begun in early childhood and indulged in
excessively at times, no causal factors were discovered. He
considered that this case offered a good illustration of the
peculiar coexistence of real lies and delusions in the same
His fourth case was that of an artful, deceitful, arrogant,
selfish boy, always clever in excuses, who had stolen from the
age of twelve, often stolen things that he threw away. Though of
Protestant family, he delighted to draw Catholic insignia and
embroider religious characters. He finally entered the
university, always lying and stealing. At the end of three
months he was taken home in debt 2000 marks. He later became a
Catholic. Outside of normal expense he had cost his father
28,000 marks. By the time he was studied he had already taken
opium for four years, having started because of neuralgia. There
had been a severe operation on account of some trouble with the
teeth. It was discovered that there was contrary sexual feeling
in this case also. The patient had a great inclination for doing
woman's handwork. Delbruck again considered the early appearance
of character anomalies and perverted sex feeling to prove a
deep-seated abnormality of nervous constitution. He diagnosed it
as a case of constitutional psychosis; the extent of the
abnormalities showing the individual to be irresponsible.
His last patient was an alcoholic adventurer, early life unknown,
who had an idiotic sister. He had lived long in America and
returned to Germany full of stories of his wonderful achievements
over seas. This case does not concern us except to emphasize the
influence of alcohol in the development of such cases.
This outline is sufficient to show the justification of his
conclusion, namely, that just as in healthy people a mixing of
lies and mistakes may occur, so the same combination may reach a
pathological height, and one can diagnose a mixture of lies with
delusions or false memories.
These studies focus our attention on the following points which
are valuable to emphasize for the purpose of this monograph: the
complexity of details to be examined in the life of any one
patient in whose delinquencies pathological lying is a factor,
the variety of cases in which this factor may occur, hence the
difficulties in the way of determining the extent to which the
patient is responsible for his deeds and whether he belongs in a
reformatory or an insane hospital. From the standpoint of
society Delbruck's work has great use, since it reveals so
plainly the menace that these liars are to their families and to
the community as a whole, their unscrupulousness in financial
dealings, their tendencies to bring false accusations involving
families and friends alike in useless expense and litigation.
German studies on pseudologia phantastica since Delbruck's time
have followed the line of amplification of his views and
clarification of the subject by the addition of new types.
Koppen attempted to differentiate sharply and to analyze more
accurately the conception of the pathological lie. He found it
impossible to make an absolute separation between pathological
lies and normal lies. The lies of the mentally diseased are
seldom pathological. They lie, but their lies do not differ from
those of the mentally sound. We cannot call the results
delusional lies. Among imbeciles we find a peculiar disposition
to lying, especially among those of criminal inclination. Their
lies do not separate themselves either in content or in relation
to the rest of their ideas from the lies of the mentally
diseased. Here follows his positive contribution to the
conception; the pathological lie is active in character, a whole
sequence of experiences is fabricated and the products of fancy
brought forward with a certainty that is astonishing. The
possibility that the untruth may be at any minute demolished does
not abash the liar in the least. Remonstrances against the lies
make no impression. On closer inspection we find that the liar
is no longer free, he has ceased to be master of his own lies,
the lie has won power over him, it has the worth of a real
experience. In the final stage of the evolution of the
pathological lie, it cannot be differentiated from delusion.
Pathological lies have long been credited to hystericals, they
are now known to arise in alcoholics, imbeciles, degenerates.
All pathological liars have a purpose, i.e., to decorate their
own person, to tell something interesting, and an ego motive is
always present. They all lie about something they wish to
possess or be.
 ``Ueber die pathologische Lugner,'' Charite-Annalen, 8, 1898.
Koppen offers three case studies: I. A man who had suffered
from many epileptic seizures came from a family in which there
was insanity. He gave himself many false titles, and from his
childhood pathological lying had been a prominent symptom. As an
example, when he married against his father's will, he at the
wedding read a false dispatch, pretending it to be
congratulations from his family. Koppen suggests that this
individual was incapable of meeting life as it really was and he
therefore wove a mass of phantasies. II. A young man charged
with grave falsifications. He had come from an epileptic family
and himself had slight attacks in childhood. He bore various
pathological stigmata. Koppen considered that the patient
believed his own stories about his rather superior education and
that in general his lies became delusions which influenced his
actions. He diagnosed the case as psychotic; insane in a legal
sense. III. A young man undoubtedly insane brought forward his
pathological lies with such force that Koppen was persuaded that
the patient believed in them.
Bernard Risch has seen many cases of delinquents with more or
less marked psychopathic signs in which pathological lying was
the focal point. He reports five cases at great length, in all
of whom the inclination to fabricate stories, ``der Hang zum
fabulieren,'' is irresistible and apparently not to be repressed
by efforts of the will. Risch's main points, built up from study
of his cases, are worthy of close consideration: 1. Mental
processes similar to those forming the basis of the impulse to
literary creation in normal people lie at the foundation of the
morbid romances and fancies of those afflicted with pseudologia
phantastica. The coercive impulse for self-expression, with an
accompanying feeling of desire and dissatisfaction, plays a
similar part in both. That the making up of tales is an end in
itself for the abnormal swindler, just as it is for the normal
author, seems clear to Risch. 2. The morbid impulse which forces
``zum fabulieren'' is bound up with the desire to play the role
of the person depicted. Fiction and real life are not separated
as in the mind of the normal author. 3. The bent of thought is
egocentric, the morbid liar and swindler can think of nothing but
himself. 4. There is a reduction of the powers of attention in
these cases; only upon supposition that this faculty is disturbed
can we account for the discrepancies in the statements of
patients. One has the impression that their memory for their
delinquencies is not clear. Careful investigation proves that
they do not like to remember them and this dislike has to be
overcome. 5. There is a special weakness in judgment, which for
general purposes is sound. The train of thought is logical, but
in ethical discernment the lack appears. The pathological liar
does not face openly the question of whether his lies can be seen
 `` `Ueber die phantastische Form des degenerativen Irrseins,
Pseudologia phantastica.'' Allgemeine Zeitschrift fur
Psychiatrie, 65, 1908, H. 4; pp. 576-639.
Then follows a closer analysis of the qualities possessed by
pathological liars: (a) Their range of ideas is wide. (b) Their
range of interests is wider than would be expected from their
grade of education. (c) Their perceptions are better than the
average. (d) They are nimble witted. Their oral and written
style is above normal in fluency. (e) They exhibit faultiness in
the development of conceptions and judgments. Their judgment is
sharp and clear only as far as their own person does not come
into consideration. It is the lack of any self criticism
combined with an abnormal egocentric trend of thought that biases
their judgments concerning themselves. (f) Psychic traumata
arise perhaps through a striking reaction in the emotional realm
towards external occurrences. (g) Nearly all of Risch's cases
were burdened with bad inheritance. He maintains that, above
all, these cases show instability and psychic excitability. The
entire symptom complex arises upon a basis of degeneracy.
Essential similarities run through all of Risch's cases; it is
perhaps valuable here to cite a couple of them. His Case I is
that of a soldier, who after being released from prison at 23
years had begun his military duty and in a short time attempted
suicide. He was then studied for insanity. It was found that he
gave long accounts of his experiences as a chauffeur, rendering
his story with fluent details about hairbreadth escapes and other
adventures. He also told at length of his love affair with a
young girl. These stories were discovered to be false from ``A
to Z''; he did not clearly remember them later. The evolving of
such fabrications was all along one of his chief characteristics.
Examination showed no gross intellectual defect, but there were
certain psychopathic signs which had been displayed from early
childhood: he had little endurance and was unable to stand
criticism. Emotions befitting his stories were correctly
expressed by him; there were no facial evidences of conflict or
discomfort. It was impossible to tell from his physiognomy that
he was engaged in untruths. Mentally he was well oriented and
his thoughts flowed in orderly sequence. Despite rather limited
education he demonstrated very good style in his conversation and
his letters. The train of thought was expressed coherently and
logically, so well that one could speak of him as having literary
ability. Physically he was quite normal. Investigation of
antecedents showed that he was born of an exceedingly nervous
mother (more exact diagnosis not given) and that he had a
feebleminded brother. During his school career he was considered
to have quite fair ability. He learned no trade, and after
stopping school would leave a position upon the slightest
provocation. Before he was 23 he had been legally punished many
times for stealing and had spent, all told, over three years in
prison. Once before he had attempted suicide. After the
thorough study of him at 23 he was placed in an asylum. There he
was occupied at basket weaving and was chiefly notable for
keeping up the characteristics that were peculiar to him before.
He continually lied and, indeed, seemed to get his main pleasure
out of telling fabulous stories to the other patients.
Case IV was a man of 31 years, a decorative painter by trade, who
presented himself at the states attorney's office and stated that
in a fit of jealousy he had shot and killed a man. Taking up the
case it was soon found that this was quite untrue and that the
man was a chronic liar. He seemed much astonished when he was
told that the man he claimed to have killed was still alive.
Further study of this self-accuser showed that he had been
punished by the law every year since he was 16. His offenses
consisted of embezzling, theft, forgery, and swindling. In all
he had served about 6 1/2 years. His lying was so much a part of
his mental life that he seemed to be unable to discriminate
between his real and his fancied crimes. He not only invented
stories, but was much inclined to play some role created by his
fancy. There seemed to be a method in his cheating and swindling
which added to his undoubted pleasure in lying. His peculiar
career was much furthered by the possession of a fluent style and
a good memory through which his creations were built up in most
plausible fashion. He proved to be willingly introspective and
stated that his inclination to lie was a puzzle to him, and that
while he was engaged in prevarications he believed in them. He
always was the hero of his own stories. He further declared that
inner unrest and love of wandering drove him forth even when he
was living under orderly conditions. He considered that his
feeling of restlessness was a weighty motive in the deeds for
which he had been punished. At one time this man had simulated
attacks of epilepsy and attempted in connection with these to
swindle physicians and others. His schooling had been continued
to the gymnasium, ``untertertia,'' then he had taken up his
trade. His intelligence and memory were considered excellent.
He had an insane brother.
Vogt has made a thorough analysis of six cases of
pathological liars, ranging from the very stupid to the
intelligent. I. A girl, who had done poorly in school was unable
to hold a place and became a thief. Her mother was epileptic.
Examination showed intelligence not equal to that of eight years
with moral inferiority on account of this weakness. II. A
feebleminded girl of vacillating, weak judgment. Father insane.
Her lies were marked by their fantastic nature. III. Lively,
fanciful, unstable, hysterical girl. Poor record at school. IV.
Hysterical liar with peculiarities united with splendid mental
ability. V. Unusually intelligent, 15 years old, illegitimate
child; normal mother who later had five sound children; father
drunkard. Her lies were neither of suggested nor dreamy type,
they were skillfully dramatized means to an end in her fight for
social position. In the psychiatric examination she was found
mentally normal. VI. Girl thoroughly intelligent, good at
figures and puzzles, with no signs of degeneracy.
 ``Jugendliche Lugnerinnen.'' Zeitschrift fur Erforschung d.
jugend. Schwachsinns., Bd. 3. H. 5. 1910; p. 465.
Vogt characterized the pathological lie as active, more
elaborately constructed, more inclusive, and leaving the ground
of reality more readily than ordinary lies. Such lies he does
not always find egocentric. To the pathological liar his own
creation is reality, so he walks securely, is open and amiable.
All these cases are gifted with lively imaginations and inclined
to autosuggestion. Vogt calls the pathological lie a wish
psychosis. This statement opens the way to an interesting and
valuable interpretation of the psychological significance of this
phenomenon of the mental life. He finds many more girls than
boys among his cases; boys lie from need of defense and
protection, girls more from autosuggestion. This type of lie is
of greater interest to social than to clinical psychology. He
emphasizes the point that very refined and complicated lies
appear in healthy young people in the stress of difficult
situations. Obstinate and stubborn lying of itself is no disease
among children; examination must reveal that the lie has a morbid
The resemblance of pathological lying to poetic creation was
first suggested by Delbruck in a reference to Keller's ``Der
grune Heinrich,'' a German novel in which the lies of a boy of
seven years, lies of a creative type of the nature of retroactive
hallucinations, are described. Hinrichsen discusses at
length the resemblance of pseudologia phantastica to poetic
creation in Goethe, Grillparzer, Hoffman, and others.
 loc. cit.
 ``Zur Kasuistik und Psychologie der Pseudologia
phantastica.'' Arch. fur Kriminal Anthrop. umd Kriminalistik,
In an inaugural dissertation Anna Stemmermann presents
exhaustively a series of cases. These cases were studied over a
long period catamnestically. Commenting upon one case she says:
It is worthy of note in this history that the patient in a
hypnoidal condition, with headache and flushed face, crochets in
a senseless way and thinks she is weaving a wreath for her
mother's grave, her mother being still alive. We often meet with
actions like this. Characteristic is the report of spontaneous,
fearful headache, without the patient's putting this in relation
to her peculiar behavior. We lay more stress upon this condition
than has been done previously in the literature. We believe that
this symptom is wanting in no classic case of pseudologia
phantastica. Often in this condition of narrowed consciousness,
the daydreams are spun and have such a power of convincing that
they later make the basis for pathological lies and swindling.
In this hypnoidal state a strongly heightened suggestibility
exists and trivial external causes give daydreams their
direction. The general trend of fancy reveals naturally the
inclinations and ideals of the affected individual. Stemmermann
also maintained that the pathological lie is a wish psychosis.
Even outside of the hypnoidal state, these cases are more
suggestible than the general run of people.
 ``Beitrage und Kasuistik der Pseudologia phantastica.'' Geo.
Reimer, Berlin, 1906, pp. 102.
Of Stemmermann's own cases, ten in number, only four at most were
normally endowed, the remainder were either stupid or slightly
imbecile. This agrees with the experience of previous writers.
Study of her cases showed that there was report of previous
mendacity, four had been liars from childhood. She found in them
the combination of the general habit of lying underneath the more
accentuated form of pseudologia phantastica. One case had
perverted sex feeling, one was a prostitute at sixteen years.
In her dissertation some points for the differentiation of the
pathological lie have been added to those offered by Delbruck,
Risch, Koppen, and Vogt. The pathological liar lies, not
according to a plan, but the impulse seizes him suddenly. This
propensity grows stronger. Under strict supervision it comes to
only an abortive attack, similar to what happens in cases of
dipsomania, or of tendency to rove in which the repressed
outbreak expresses itself in tormenting psychical and physical
unrest. While the normal liar and swindler is forced to be on
his guard lest he divulge something of the actual state of
affairs, and is therefore either taciturn or presents an evil and
watchful appearance, or, if a novice at his trade, is hesitating
in his replies, the pathological liar has a cheerful, open, free,
enthusiastic, charming appearance, because he believes in his
stories and wishes their reality. The inconsequential way in
which such persons go to work is to be explained by the fact that
consciousness of the real situation is partly clouded in their
minds. In any special act it is impossible to say whether the
consciousness of the lie, fancy, or delusion preponderates.
Inability to remember delinquencies Stemmermann regards also as
added proof of pathological lying.
She speaks of another class of prattlers, chattering people that
might be confounded with pathological liars from the stories they
tell in full detail. But they have no system which they develop,
often change their subject and do not paint in a lifelike way
because they do not believe their own stories or live in them in
a self-centered manner.
Of the 17 cases Stemmermann studied from the literature
(Delbruck, Hinrichsen, Jorger, Redlich, Koelle, Henneberg ,
Wellenbergh) 10 were periodic. Of her own 10 cases, 6 were
periodic. Sex abnormalities were present in 5 out of the 17 in
the literature. Among possible causes of pathological lying she
places any factor which narrows consciousness and increases
suggestion and weakness, such as pregnancy, overexertion, chronic
alcoholism, monotonous living, long, close work, head injuries.
Concerning prognosis she finds little detailed in the literature.
The general opinion is that such cases arising from a background
of degeneracy are incurable. One of her cases was free from
attacks for two periods of three years each, and had been
blameless in an honorable position as editor for seven years at
the time of the publication of her monograph. She suggests that
the profession he has chosen may be particularly suited to the
talents of the pathological liar. She also ventures to state
that where pathological lying is merely an accompaniment of
puberty it may disappear.
The fact that so many of the cases cited by Stemmermann were
clearly abnormal and found places in insane asylums makes much
citation of them by us, in turn, hardly worth while. However, a
short summary of a couple of her more normal cases will show the
problems and conditions as she found them. I. Annie J., 19 years
old, father a tailor, had been employed in several places as a
servant. Aside from the fact that it was stated she always had
an inclination to lie, nothing more was known about her early
life. She complained of headaches and fainting attacks, and
mourned over the death of her fiance. She said he had gone to
Berlin to learn tailoring and had died there of inflammation of
the lungs. He left her 650 marks which her mother got hold of.
On investigation it was found that this man was still alive and
never had been engaged to her. She then accused her mother of
taking 50 marks from her and said that a man, purporting to be
her real father, came from another town and told her she had been
brought up by foster parents. Through the quarreling which arose
from these various stories Annie was taken before the police
physician and pronounced mentally unsound. Then she told of
another engagement with the brother of her departed fiance, who
had discovered her real mother. The latter was going to leave
her 30,000 marks. He had formed a plot with the foster mother to
put Annie out of the way and to divide the money. He followed
her on the street and threw a drugged cloth over her head. She
fainted and was carried home. She said she brought action for
attempt to murder. (Whether this fiance and the rich mother were
real persons is not known.) Later in the same year, Annie being
again at large, a new father, der Graf von Woldau, appeared and
bought her beautiful clothes costing 100 marks. He wanted to
take her away, but quickly disappeared and was not seen again.
When Annie told this story she was employed by a woman who
attempted to get traces of the count, but failed. Later this
employer missed a sum of money equivalent to that spent for the
clothes. Annie's responsibility by this time was still more
questioned and she was sent to an insane asylum. There she was
found normally oriented, orderly, industrious, but suffered from
periodical headaches. When questioned in the asylum concerning
her tales she hesitated and would say, ``Now I believe them and
now I don't.'' It is remarkable in this case that her different
employers believed all her fabrications and took the girl's part
against the supposed offenders. For a year she engaged in a sort
of orgy of pathological lying and then this phase of her career
stopped. After a few months in the asylum she returned home and
later married. The last report from her mother was that she was
nervous and easily excited, but showed no further signs of
II. This was a boy, Johann P., who was studied mentally first
when he was 16 years old. A thoroughly good history was
forthcoming. He was brought for examination on account of his
extreme changeableness, his failure in several occupations, his
tendencies to swindling and his extreme lying. As a young child
his mother had to correct him much for prevarications. Soon
after he was 9, when both his parents were already dead, he
forged a school certificate and was felt to be a bad influence in
the home of his guardian. About that time he also stole money
from pockets on a number of occasions. In school he was regarded
as an undesirable pupil on account of his underhanded behavior,
and one teacher who had observed him for long wrote that he
showed marked inclination towards lying. At the time he was 15,
he was somewhat retarded in school life, but was told he had to
decide upon an occupation. After a stormy period he announced he
would become a gardener. After doing well for a month or so at
his first place he began to tell compromising stories about the
wife of his employer. He gave himself out to be the son of a
general who was going to inherit a large sum of money. On the
strength of this he managed to get hold of expensive articles he
desired. A short time afterward he wrote to his guardian he was
fitted for higher pursuits than that of gardening. Soon
afterward he ran away to a large town. He now wrote that the
word freedom sounded like the sweetest music in his ears. He
acknowledged that he had started on a career of criminality, but
decided to do better. At this time he attempted to make his way
by offering his compositions at a newspaper office where they
were declined either because his productions were immature or his
authorship was doubted. One editor loaned him some money, but he
got much more by representing himself to be a collaborator of
this editor. He soon failed to make his way and attempted other
things, including entrance into the merchant marine. He finally
turned up again at his guardian's house, and when his box was
opened it was found to contain a very curious lot of material
such as money accounts, business cards, letter heads, catalogues.
It was at this time that he was placed for observation in an
asylum and it was soon found that his alleged compositions were
plagiarized. He claimed to suffer from headaches. Outside of
that he was in fine physical condition. He frequently wrote
sketches in proof of his ability. A general statement was
finally made that he showed slight traces of hysteria, was a
sufferer from headaches, and showed periodic tendencies to
wandering and lying. No special defect in the ethical
discriminations was present. He had good insight into his own
tendencies. He was finally released to his guardian, and
Stemmermann offered the prognosis that Johann might well develop
into a typical pathological swindler. He came of a family of
five brothers and sisters, one of whom was incarcerated for a
year on account of stealing. One sister was noted for her
tendency to prevarication. Several of them were remarkably
unstable, at least early in life. All of them are said to have
learned very unwillingly in school. One brother of the father
was exceedingly nervous.
Jorger presents a case of a boy of poor parents who was from
childhood possessed of the idea of becoming a teacher. He was
always a solitary child, endowed with great religious fervor. In
spite of poverty he obtained an education, studied the classics,
and did excellent work. He developed early religious
eccentricities, became unsound on money matters, boasted of his
father's millions, spent freely as a benefactor, bought expensive
books. Then developed an outspoken tendency to swindling.
Finally he was adjudged insane and committed to an asylum.
Commenting on this case, Jorger points out the marks of
abnormality from childhood, such as solitariness and religious
intensity. He was above normal in intellectual ability, but
lacking in moral development. He did not love parents, brothers,
sisters, or teachers; he was very egotistical. Jorger defines
this as a case of constitutional psychosis. When older,
pseudologia phantastica controlled him; it was like hypnotic
influence, his dreams of wealth were like paranoia. His hypnotic
condition grew to such an extent that there was an interruption
of consciousness with following amnesia.
``Beitrage zur Kenntnisse der Pseudologin phantastica.''
Viertel-jahrschrift fur gerichtliche Medicin und offentliches
Sanitatswesen, 1904 Bd. XXVII; pp. 189-242.
Henneberg cites another case of a highly educated young man
who told wonderful stories in childhood and later obtained money
under false pretenses with elaborate deception. From an
eccentric grandmother, and a mother who was very excitable and
suffered from hysteria, he inherited a nervous system which was
not calculated to bear the strain which his own overzealous
efforts in pursuing his studies and his spiritual exaltation put
upon it, hence the mental and moral breakdown. This is a very
interesting case because it does not fit into the usual group of
 ``Zur kasuistischen und klin. Beurteilung der Pseudologia
phantastica.'' Charite-Annalen, XXV, XXVI.
Wendt enlarges the field in which we may look for such cases.
He finds pseudologia phantastica a symptom, not only of hysteria,
alcoholism, paranoia, but also of sex repression, and
neurasthenia. He takes a more philosophical view of the subject
than previous authors. He understands by pseudologia phantastica
not merely the bare habit of telling fantastic lies, and what
they bring forth, but rather the yielding up of consciousness of
reality in the presence of the morbidly fantastic wish in its
widest consequences. Since the wish in order to exist is not
permitted to lose entirely the conscious presentation of what it
hopes for, so memory and recognition of reality emerge
disconnected in consciousness, and a condition described as
double consciousness arises. In this state of mind two forms of
life run side by side, the actual and the desired, finally the
latter becomes preponderant and decisive. Such a psychic make-up
must lead unconditionally and necessarily to swindling and law
breaking. A degenerative alteration furnishes the basis from
which a wish or wish-complex arises, increasing in force until it
becomes autosuggestion, hence it is pathological. Then follow
the practical consequences, and we have developed, on the one
side, pathological lying, and, on the other, swindling, i.e.,
criminality. Purely symptomatically pseudologia phantastica is
characterized by the groundlessness of the fabrications, the
heightened suggestibility of the patient, and in its wake arises
double consciousness and inadequate powers of reproduction of
 ``Ein Beitrag zur Kasuistik der Pseudologia phantastica.''
Allgemeine Zeitschrift fur Psychiatrie, LXVIII, Heft 4; pp.
Wendt gives at length the history of a precocious boy, the son of
an official of medical rank, who had lived always with older
people. He lied from early childhood. He was a chronic sufferer
from severe headaches. Between the ages of 15 and 17 this boy
showed evidences of literary talent, but was poor in mathematics.
From a tender age he had an overmastering desire to become great;
he said he wished to become a jurist because only jurists get the
high offices. He entered a South German university, rented a
fine apartment, stated he was accustomed to a Schloss, his father
was a high state official. He later called himself Graf
Friedrich Gersdorf auf Blankenhain. The young man's deceits grew
rapidly, he obtained much money falsely, traveled first class
with a body servant. He passed to other universities, was always
quiet and industrious. After many adventures he fell into the
hands of the law and was adjudged insane. Most interesting was
the fact that he discussed intelligently his career. ``My
capacity for considering my thoughts as something really carried
out in life is unfortunately too great to permit my having full
conception of the boundary between appearance and reality.''
The family history of the above case included swindling,
hysteria, and epilepsy. His fabricating tendency first reached
its height at 14 years, thus showing the influence of puberty.
Wendt regarded the etiological factors as family degeneracy, a
wish-complex which in activity amounted to autosuggestion, double
consciousness, and a periodical preponderance of the wished for
Bresler in proposing two reforms in the German
``Strafgesetzbuch'' undertook a discussion of pathological
accusations, as material using cases reported by several authors.
He attempted a classification as follows: 1. Deliberately false
accusations based upon the pathological disposition or impulse to
lie; the content of the accusation being fabricated. 2. False
accusation upon a basis of pathologically disturbed perceptions
or reasoning. Content of the accusation is here illusion,
hallucination, or delusion. 3. Accusations correct in content,
but pathologically motivated.
 ``Die pathologische Anschuldigung.''
Juristisch-psychiatrische Grenzfragen, Band V, Heft 8, pp. 42.
The first group nearly always is the action of hystericals, and
many are centered on sex affairs. Bresler's cited cases of this
class seem merely to impress the idea of revenge, or of
protection from deserved punishment. A very complicated case was
that of a girl who had been rejected in marriage after the
discovery by her lover that she had attacks of major hysteria.
She entered into a conspiracy with her mother to destroy him.
She first maliciously cut grape vines and accused him and his
brother of doing it. Then she slandered his whole family. A
year later, suddenly appearing wounded, she accused his uncle of
trying to kill her and obtained a verdict against him. Then she
attempted the same with another uncle who, however, maintained an
alibi. After this her role changed, for her mother summoned
people to see her daughter lying with a wreath around her head,
brought by an angel, with a scroll on which was inscribed
``Corona Martyri.'' The church now took her part and she toured
the country as a sort of saint. Later she returned to her former
tactics, she set fire to a house, cut off a cow's udder, and
accused her former lover of these deeds. Now for the first time
it went badly with her. She was finally imprisoned for life on
account of attempts to poison people.
In Bresler's second group he places the false accusations of
alcoholics, paranoiacs, querulants (whom he calls a sub-class of
paranoiacs) and sufferers from head injuries. Besides these, he
here classes the false accusations of children.
The third class is so rare that it receives almost no discussion.
Longard reports an interesting case of a chronic liar and
swindler, a man who on account of the peculiarities of his
swindling was placed under custody for study. Upon detention he
went into convulsions and later seemed entirely distracted. He
was then 24 years old. Investigation of his case showed that his
abnormalities dated from early life and were probably due to the
fact that in childhood he had a bad fall from a height. When he
was 23 he had served six months on account of swindling. At that
time he had been going about in the Rhine country dressed as a
monk, begging things of little worth, such as crucifixes,
candles, medals, etc. His pious behavior and orderliness gave
him a good reception. He sometimes took money or begged it in
order to read masses for poor souls. In one village he said he
had come to reconnoiter for a site to build a hospital. Some
cloister brothers in one place took him for a swindler and
decided he was overwrought religiously, and that he really
thought he was what he wished to become. He was studied at
length in prison where he had one attack of maniacal behavior and
tried to hang himself. The physician there thought him a
simulator. He was excused from his military service because of
stomach trouble. At that time mental abnormalities were not
noticed. After this he again acted the part of a monk, wandering
through France and Germany, living in monasteries, and being
helped along by different organizations, Protestant as well as
Catholic. He was arrested in Cologne when discovered to be a
fraud. He lay four days in jail apparently unconscious and then
appeared stupefied and staggered about. When questioned he
responded, ``I am born again.'' He spoke mostly in Biblical
terms and was fluent with pious speeches. He was found quite
sound physically. He ate a great deal and was known to take
bread away from other prisoners at night. He was sentenced for
15 months for swindling. He himself related that in youth he had
seen many monks and had become possessed of the idea of being
one. He was a sex pervert.
 ``Ein forensisch interessanter Fall. Pseudologia
phantastica.'' Allg. Zeitschrift f. Psych. LV, p. 88.
The author considered this not a pure case of simulation; the
patient was an abnormal being, none of his keepers thought him
normal. His entire appearance, his excited way of speaking, his
gestures and play of features were all striking to a high degree.
His method of going about begging was unreasonable; he gained so
little by it. His tendency to untruthfulness stood out
everywhere. He imitated the pious as he chattered without aim.
The man had lived himself into the role of a cloister brother so
completely that he was not clearly conscious of the deceit. The
author thinks the case presents some paranoiac features with a
pathological tendency towards lying. Thus this pathological liar
presents the phenomenon of a mixture of lies and delusions.
From the Zurich clinic of Forel several cases of pathological
swindling have been reported at length. It must be confessed
that the success of much of the misrepresentation cited in these
case histories seems to be as largely due to the naivete of the
country folk as to the efforts of the swindlers themselves. Two
of the cases were clearly insane and were detained for long
periods in asylums after their study in the clinic. But even so,
it is to be noted that one of these when absenting himself from
institutional care succeeded in going on with his swindling
operations. The third case was regarded as that of an
aberrational individual with special tendency towards lying and
swindling, but the opinion rendered did not end in the man being
held as insane. He was simply regarded as a delinquent, and
after serving his sentence he went his old way. These cases are
interesting to one who would learn the extent to which swindling
among a simple minded population can be carried on.
 ``Gerichtlich-psychiatrische Gutachten aus d. Klinik von
Prof. Forel in Zurich; f. Aerzte u. Juristen, herausgegeb. von
Dr. Th. Koelle.'' Stuttgart, Encke, 1902.
From French sources we have not been able to collect such a
wealth of material as we found in German literature. One study
by Belletrud and Mercier compares favorably in elaborate
working out of details with the work of German authors. A
Corsican boy, from childhood moody, fond of adventure, inclined
to deception, had attempted suicide several times before he was
twenty years old. He was married at that time and went to
France, where he was employed in several towns. His life
following this included an immense amount of lying and swindling.
He had a mania for buying costly antique furniture and jewelry
which he obtained on credit. He frequently disappeared from
localities where he was wanted on criminal charges, and changed
his name. He wandered through Italy, Tunis, and South America.
Returning to France he was taken into custody and mental troubles
were noted. He showed delirium of persecution and was removed to
a hospital for the insane. Experts studied him for a year before
they could decide whether he was insane or merely simulating
insanity. Finally they thought he was not simulating. A few
months later he escaped, went to Belgium, Italy, Corsica.
Turning up at a town in France under an assumed name, he was
arrested again and elaborately examined. At this time he had
frequent attacks of unconsciousness and frothing at the mouth.
At times he was melancholy. Summarizing the case, the authors
say that the psychic peculiarities of the patient were
congenital, and included habitual instability of character with
defective development of the ethical sentiments, and tendency to
deceit and swindling. Epilepsy here is, of course, the central
cause of mental and moral deterioration.
 ``Un cas de mythomanie; escroquerie et simulation chez un
epileptique.'' L'Encephale, June 1910, p. 677.
From a pedagogical point of view Rouma tells of the marvelous
stories of a five-year-old boy in the Froebel school at
Charleroi. His stories were generally suggested by something
told by the teacher or other pupils. He referred their anecdotes
to himself or other members of his family and greatly enlarged
upon them. He also made elaborate childish drawings and gave
long accounts of what they meant. Going into the question of
heredity Rouma found this boy's mother very nervous; the father
was a good man. She had worked steadily at the machine before
his birth. Two of their children died with convulsions; of the
two living, one was well behaved, but weakly. Rouma's case had
stigmata of degeneracy in ears, palate, and jaw. Tested by the
Binet system, he did three out of five of the tests for five
years satisfactorily. He was easily fatigued, refused at times
to respond, said he had been forbidden to reply, said he would be
whipped if he did. In school he was always poor at manual work,
wanted to be moving about, to go out of classes on errands, was
always calling notice to himself in a good or bad way. He paid
very little attention to his lessons, played alone or with
younger children, leading them often into mischief. It was found
that he got much of his material for stories from his older
brother who told him of robbers and accidents. From his good
father he got the form of his tales, because the father was wont
to tell him stories with a moral.
 ``Un cas de mythomanie.'' Arch. de Psych. 1908, pp.
In summary, Rouma stated that this child possessed senses acute
beyond the average, and was of very unstable temperament,
refusing regular work, not submitting to rules, rebelling at
abstractions. There were evidences of degeneracy on the mother's
Remedies in education for such children are: Suppress food for
imagination, such as came from the stories of father and brother.
Direct perceptions to accurate work. Systematize education of
attention, exercise the senses, use manual work, such as modeling
and gardening. Give lessons in observation in the class room and
Meunier tells of three girls in a well known Parisian school
who indulged in wonderful tales. The first, in the intermediate
grade, told stories of the illness of her father to account for
her not having her lessons. The second, 11 years old, said that
her mother was dying; she came bringing this news to the teachers
at two different periods of her school life. She was a calm,
thoughtful, analytical child with no reason for lying. Family
history negative. The third, 13 years old, told of an imaginary
uncle who was going to collect funds for needy children; she kept
up the deceit for two months. She was an anemic, nervous,
hysterical child with a nervous mother. Meunier calls these
cases of systematized deliriums. The development of such
delirium annihilates, so to speak, the entire personality of the
subject, and his entire mental life is invaded by abnormal extra
and introspection--the delirium commands and systematizes all
acquired impressions. There is a veritable splitting of the
personality in which the new ``ego'' is developed at the expense
of the normal ``ego'' that now only appears at intervals.
 ``Remarks on Three Cases of Morbid Lying.'' Journal of
Mental Pathology, 1904, pp. 140-142.
CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL LYING AND SWINDLING
In the group of twelve cases making up this chapter we have
limited ourselves to a simple type in order to demonstrate most
clearly the classical characteristics of pathological liars. How
pathological lying verges into swindling may be readily seen in
several of the following cases, e.g., Cases 3, 8, 10, 12,
although only two, Cases 3 and 12, have had time as yet to show
marked development of the swindling tendency. For the purpose of
aiding in the demonstration of the evolution of lying into
swindling, and also to bring out the fact that facility in
language may be the determining influence towards pathological
lying and swindling, we have included Case 12, which otherwise
possibly might be considered under our head of border-line mental
In any attempt to distinguish between pathological accusers and
liars, cases overlapping into both groups are found--so some of
the material in this chapter may be fairly considered as
belonging partially to the next chapter.
In discussing the possibility of betterment, a fact which we as
well as others have observed, consideration of Cases 1, 4, and 7
Summary: A girl of 16 applied for help, telling an elaborate
tale of family tragedy which proved to be totally untrue. It was
so well done that it deceived the most experienced. Shrewd
detective work cleared the mystery. It was found that the girl
was a chronic falsifier and had immediately preceding this
episode become delinquent in other ways. Given firm treatment in
an institution and later by her family, who knew well her
peculiarities, this girl in the course of four years apparently
has lost her previous extreme tendency to falsification.
Hazel M. at 16 years of age created a mild sensation by a story
of woe which brought immediate offers of aid for the alleged
distress. One morning she appeared at a social center and stated
she had come from a hospital where her brother, a young army man,
had just died. She gave a remarkably correct, detailed, medical
account of his suffering and death. In response to inquiry she
told of a year's training as a nurse; that was how she knew about
such subjects. In company with a social worker she went directly
back to the hospital to make arrangements for what she requested,
namely, a proper burial. At the hospital office it was said that
no such person had died there, and after she had for a time
insisted on it she finally said she must have been dreaming.
Although she had wept on the shoulder of a listener as she first
told her story, she now gave it up without any show of emotion.
We were asked to study the case.
Hazel sketched to us a well-balanced story of her family life;
one which it was impossible to break down. It involved
experiences at army posts--she stated her only relatives were
brothers in the army--and her recent work as a ``practical
nurse.'' She finally led on to the death of her brother, as in
the tale previously told. When asked how she accounted for the
fact that no such person was found in the hospital, she answered,
``Well, I either must have been crazy or something is the matter,
and I don't think my mind is that bad.'' The girl evidently was
suffering from loss of sleep; her case was not further
investigated until after a long rest.
The next day Hazel started in by saying, ``It's enough to
convince anybody that I was not in the hospital when Mrs. B. and
I went there and found out that they said I had not been there.
Truthfully I don't know where I was. If I was not there I must
have been some place or I must have been in a trance.'' The long
stories told in the next few days need not be gone into. They
contained descriptions of life with her family in several towns
when she was a child, of her graduation from the high school in
Des Moines, and of her experience as a nurse in Cincinnati and
Chicago. Our cross-examination disclosed that she knew a good
many facts about obstetrics, in which she said she had had
training, and about the cities where she said she had lived. For
instance, she gave a description of the Cliff House at San
Francisco, the seals on the rocks there, the high school in Des
Moines, and so on. She also knew about life at army posts. The
point that made us skeptical was when in mentioning the names of
railroads she placed the wrong towns upon them. For instance,
she told us her brother worked on the L. S. & M. S. at Kenosha.
Hazel's stories were successfully maintained for several days
until a shrewd detective, who got her to tell some street numbers
in Chicago, ferreted out her family. She had persistently denied
the existence of any of them in Chicago, and, indeed, stated that
her father and mother had died years previously. One of the most
convincing things about her was her poise; she displayed an
attitude of sincerity combined with a show of deep surprise when
her word was questioned. For example, the moment before her
mother was brought in to see her, she was asked what she would
say if anyone asserted that her mother was in the next room. Her
instantaneous, emphatic response was, ``She would have to rise
out of her grave to be there.''
We soon learned that not a single detail the girl had given about
her family was true. She was born and brought up in Chicago and
had never been outside of the city. She had never studied
nursing nor had she ever nursed anybody. In public school she
had reached eighth grade.
Hazel came of an intelligent family and we were able to get a
good account of the family and developmental history. Heredity
seems completely negative as far as any nervous or mental
abnormalities are concerned. She is one of seven children, four
of whom are living, three having died in infancy. The father had
just recently died of tuberculosis. There has been no trouble
with the other children of any significance for us. Pregnancy
with Hazel was healthy, but the mother suffered a considerable
shock when she stood on a passenger boat by the side of a man who
jumped overboard and committed suicide. The birth was difficult.
The child weighed 12 lbs. Instruments were used; it was a breech
presentation. At 2 years of age Hazel was very ill with
gastritis and what was said to be spinal meningitis. She had
some convulsions then. Had both walked and talked when she was
about 16 months of age. During childhood she had a severe
strabismus and at 8 years of age was operated upon for it.
Vision has always been practically nil in one eye. Several
diseases of childhood she had in mild form. After she was 2
years of age she had no more convulsions, or spasms, or attacks
of any kind. From the standpoint of general nervousness Hazel
was said to be one of the calmest in the family, although she was
accustomed to drink five or six cups of coffee a day.
Menstruation at 13 years, no irregularity.
On examination we found a very well nourished and well developed
young woman of slouchy attitude and normal expression. Vision
very defective in one eye and 10/20, even with glasses, in the
other. Slight strabismus. General strength good. Examination
otherwise negative except for the fact that she had been infected
with the diplococcus of Neisser.
Mental tests proved her to have quite normal ability. Neither
special ability nor disabilities of significance were discovered.
For present discussion it is of interest to note that in the
``Aussage'' Test she gave a functional account, enumerating 16
items, 2 of which were incorrect, and accepted none of the
suggestions which were offered.
The mother and sister brought out the facts that Hazel had been
giving an assumed name recently and lying about her age. She had
alleged that she was married. In the last year she had run away
from home on several occasions. At one time had written to her
mother about her happy married life. One letter reads, ``Dearest
Mother:--I can picture your dear face when you receive my letter.
I know you have your doubts about the matter, the same as I had
the first few days. But mama, you know I love him and I have the
satisfaction of being a married woman before Annie is.'' In the
letter she describes the appearance of her imaginary husband,
tells about her new dress and gloves and ``the prettiest little
wedding ring that was ever made.'' In another letter she says,
``It is just one o'clock A.M. and Jack has just gone to sleep and
so I stole a little time to write,'' etc. (It was later shown by
the stationery used, and by the girl's final confession, that
these letters were written in the rest room of a department
Hazel's lying began, it seems, when she was a little girl. She
would come home from school and out of whole cloth relate
incidents which occurred on the way home. One of her earliest
efforts was about being chased by a white horse. The mother
states that for years she has had to check Hazel because she
recognized her remarkable tendencies in this direction. The
father's death was somewhat of a shock and it seems that after
this the girl's other delinquencies began. Prior to the time she
first went away from home she had some sort of hysterical spells
when she said she could see her father lying in his coffin before
her in the room. Her behavior became quite outrageous with some
young man in her own household at just about this time. Not that
she was immoral, although she once suddenly blurted out in the
parlor a grave self-accusation: ``Now, John, mother thinks you
must be careful. You know I am a prostitute.'' When we first
saw her she had been away from home four times, on this last
occasion for three weeks. Before she went she had said she
wanted to kill herself. Mother had notified the police but no
trace of her was found.
From Hazel's own story told at this time and even after she
became more stable it seems very likely that her bad tendencies
began with her acquaintance with a certain rather notorious
woman. Her mother came to believe that this was undoubtedly the
fact. Our inquiry into beginnings brought to light the fact that
Hazel while a school girl for long associated with this woman who
taught her about sex immoralities. ``I don't believe my mother
knows what this Mrs. R. did to me or she would have her arrested.
She started me on all this. When I was about 11 years old I
first knew of those things. The first I ever heard was from that
woman's daughter. I never said anything to my mother. I was
always ashamed of myself to say anything about it. After I got
to working with factory girls I heard a lot about it.'' The
mother told us later that she thought it probable from what she
now knew that this Mrs. R. may have been largely responsible for
Hazel's tendency to delinquency. Hazel kept this association of
several years' standing quite to herself. The mother remembers
now how Hazel once stayed for hours after school and told a story
in explanation that they felt sure was untrue. The teachers used
to tell the mother that Hazel seemed as if she couldn't pay
attention to her school work. One teacher reported to us that
she remembers Hazel as a girl who seemed peculiar and hysterical.
The other girls called her queer and used to steer clear of her.
The mother reports Hazel as being for several years impulsive,
erratic, talkative, untidy, and rather dishonest in other small
ways besides lying--all this in spite of vigorous home
discipline. The girl at one time under the influence of revival
meetings left the religious faith of her parents. However, they
thought if any form of religion would make her better it would be
At our last interview with Hazel before she was sent away, an
interview which she prefaced by saying, ``I want to apologize for
everything I did,'' the girl showed herself unable to avoid
prevarications. Coming back, for instance, to the subject of her
schooling she tells us how she won a graduating medal. This her
mother said was untrue.
About her own lying tendencies she confessed that sometimes she
hardly knew whether things were really so or not. Asked about
her knowledge of other cities; ``I read a whole lot and learn
things in that way. I used to have to write compositions and
imagine we were going places. I was pretty good at that.'' One
felt very uncertain about Hazel's mental condition when in almost
the same breath she denied having said anything about the seals
on the rocks at San Francisco, or about obstetrical cases, but,
of course, the denial may have been itself another falsification.
Her knowledge of army affairs was gained through her acquaintance
with young soldiers. An unusual amount of what she heard or read
was photographed with the greatest clearness in her mind and was
recalled most vividly.
A peculiarity of Hazel's case which was quite obvious was her
lack of apperception concerning her own interests. Her lies all
along, after her identity was discovered, were so easy to trace,
and they so quickly rebounded upon her, that there seemed every
reason for her to desist. Nothing so clearly proved the absence
of self-realization as her feeling under detention that other
girls with whom she was in forced association were much beneath
her in quality, although many of them were not nearly so untidy
and had not been nearly so immoral. During all this period of
several months, beginning with her running away and her writing
the housewifely letters about her imaginary married life, and
ending with her appeal for aid at the social center, Hazel was
indulging in veritable orgies of lying. When away from home she
several times picked up men on the street and stayed at hotels
At the time of our first studies of this case we hardly dared to
offer either a mental or moral prognosis.
In the institution for delinquent young women to which she was
sent Hazel's traits were long maintained. She proved very
troublesome on account of lies to her family, to the officers,
and to the other girls. The latter soon discovered, however, the
peculiar lack of foundation for her stories. In the institution
was also noted the tendency to untidiness of which her mother
spoke. The authorities steadily persevered with Hazel. They
secured another operation on her eye, which successfully
straightened it, and she became fully ``cured'' of her pelvic
disease. She received instruction in a form of handicraft in
which she quickly showed special dexterity and skill. Her
tendencies to falsify gradually became less. About two years
later the mother again assumed control with great success.
This is the remarkable interest of Hazel's case, to wit, that
with proper discipline and the development of new interests her
fabricating tendencies have been reduced to a minimum. She has
made a wonderful improvement and has long been a self-supporting
and self-respecting young woman with her own relation to the
world realized in a way that before seemed entirely lacking.
Mental conflict: About early secret Case 1.
experiences. Girl, age 16 yrs.
Mental conditions: Either mild psychosis
or extreme adolescent
Bad companions: Early.
Extreme lying. Normal ability.
Running away. Psychosis (?).
Summary: A girl of 19, under partial observation for three
years, was during all this time a great mystery. Brought at
first to us by her family as being insane because she was such a
great liar and unreliable in other ways, we never could find the
slightest evidence of aberration. No satisfactory explanation
was forthcoming until the remarkable denouement when we learned
that the mother, whom we had come to know herself as an extreme
falsifier, was not the mother at all. It seems clear that the
girl's behavior was largely the result of mental conflict about
certain suspected facts, and psychic contagion arising from the
world of lies in which she had lived.
Beula D. has been known in several cities and in more than one
court as the ``mystery girl.'' She has appeared on the scene in
various places, giving a fictitious name and telling elaborate
stories of herself which always proved to be without foundation.
She ran away from home on several occasions, but except in one
instance which we know about, has never been seriously
delinquent. We saw her on many occasions and tried to get at the
truth of her stories of ill treatment and the like.
Investigators found there was unquestionably some truth in her
statements, but never from first to last in the many interviews
which we had with her was there ever any possibility of
separating truth from falsehood. The girl simply did not seem to
know the difference between the two. What was more, we found
that the mother presented the same characteristics. She also, by
her most curious and complicated fabrications, led even her most
rational sympathizers into a bewildering maze. A woman of
magnificent presence, tremendous will, and good intelligence, she
nevertheless was soon found to be absolutely unreliable in her
statements. This woman's numerous inventions, so far as we have
been able to ascertain, have been quite beside the mark of any
possible advantage to be gained by her or her family. Naturally
we here thought heredity played an important role, until our
final discovery that the two were not related. The details which
we know about this case would cover scores of pages. In summary
it stands as follows:
On the physical side Beula at 17 was a striking looking young
woman, but of very poor development. She was only 4 ft. 7 in. in
height and weighed 102 lbs. Expression was quiet, pleasant, and
responsive. Unusually clear and pleasant voice. Typical
Hutchinsonian teeth. All other examination negative.
Menstruation first at 13 1/2, normal and regular.
Notwithstanding the mother's report of her being subnormal
mentally, we found that she had fair ability. Her range of
information was good. She was always desirous of writing
compositions, she wanted to be a story writer, she said, but her
diction was very immature and her spelling was poor, making
altogether a very mild production. Never did we see any
essential incoherency in her mental processes, or any other signs
of aberration. A series of association tests given in an
endeavor to discover some of the facts which her mother
maintained she herself was desirous of knowing (but really could
not have been), failed to elicit anything but the most normal
reactions, even to ideas about which we considered there must be
On the ``Aussage'' Test only ten items were given from the
picture upon free recital. On questioning twelve more details
were reported correctly, but no less than seven of these alleged
facts were incorrect. Only one out of the five suggestions
offered was accepted.
No purpose would be served in recounting the details of falsehood
which were told by this girl about family affairs, about the
places she had worked, about the facts of home treatment, etc.
Her lying was not done cleverly, but it served to create much
confusion and gave considerable trouble to a number of social
agencies that came in contact with the family. Even when she was
applying directly for help her lies stood greatly in the way of
achieving anything for her. The confusion was vastly added to by
the many vagaries of her alleged parent, but, even so, one of the
chief accusations of the prevaricating mother was that the girl
herself was a terrible liar. The whole situation was rendered
completely absurd and needless by the behavior of both the woman
and the girl.
After we had known this case for about three years and the truth
about Beula's antecedents had come to light as the result of a
new person stepping in on the scene, the girl's tendency to
falsification seemed quite inexplicable. No one who came to know
the circumstances, even as we previously had been acquainted with
them, felt they could blame Beula much for her attitude of
dissatisfaction and her tendencies to run away. We felt, too,
that the mystery which had always hovered about this girl was
sufficient to have led her to be fanciful and imaginative and
that the fabrications of the self-styled ``mother'' did not form
an atmosphere in which the girl could well achieve respect for
truth. But Beula's almost confusional state concerning the facts
of her family life seemed quite explicable in the light of what
we at last ascertained. Soon after we first saw the girl the
woman had told us a most remarkable tale of how it was she
happened to be the mother of the child, and the attempt was then
made by several to straighten out the apparent doubt in the
girl's mind. But it seems that the clever and tragic tale of the
mother, although well calculated to do so, did not entirely cover
the points remembered by this girl of her earliest childhood.
Evidently for a time Beula tried to correlate the two, but doubt
grew apace. It seemed almost as if her doubt as to who she was
led her to say first one thing and then another. It was
particularly at a period of stress of this kind that she was
figuring in other cities as the ``mystery girl.''
The earlier facts of the case probably never will be known. Of
the many details known by us it is sufficient to say that the
woman adopted Beula as a young child and proceeded by devious
methods to weave a network of lies about the situation of their
relationship. Who Beula's parents really were neither she nor
any one else of whom we have heard, ever knew.
Beula showed such delinquent tendencies after a time that she had
to be sent to a corrective institution. After coming out she
made off in the world for herself before we could give her the
information soon afterwards obtained by us. At her last visit we
felt that her report in a terribly tragic mood on the family
conditions was totally unreliable. She went forth to weave, no
doubt, new fabrications.
Early experiences: Peculiar treatment Case 2.
and excessive misrepresentations Girl, age 19 years.
in home circle.
Mental influences: Contagion from long
continued untruthfulness at home.
Mystery of antecedents.
Mental conflict about the above.
Heredity and developmental conditions (?)
Hutchinsonian teeth only clew.
Lying. Fair ability with
Running away. poor educational
Summary: In its wonderfully clear presentation of
characteristics this case classically represents the type. A
woman of 27 years (usually claiming to be 17), during a career of
7 or 8 years has engaged in an excessive amount of
misrepresentation, often to the extent of swindling. Alleging
herself to be merely a girl and without a family, she has
repeatedly gained protection, sometimes for a year or more, in
homes where her prevaricating tendencies, appearing with ever new
details, have sooner or later thwarted her own interests. By
extraordinary methods she has often simulated illnesses which
have demanded hospital treatment. For long she was lost to her
family, traveling about under different names, making her way by
her remarkable abilities and unusual presence.
This case illustrates, again, two points we have often made,
namely, that the difficulty of getting safe data concerning
genetics increases rapidly with age, and that the chance of
altering tendencies after years of character formation vastly
diminishes. These features appear strongly here, yet our long
knowledge of the person and of the many details of her career
gives the history great interest.
A young woman, whom we will call Inez B., a name she once assumed
for a time, arrived at a girls' boarding home in Chicago with
merely a small traveling bag and money sufficient only for a few
days. In appearance and conversation she gave distinct evidences
of refinement. She showed indecision and confessed she knew no
one in the city.
Just at this time a wealthy eastern girl, Agnes W., was missing
from her home, and the police everywhere were on the lookout for
her. A detective who was ordered to visit the boarding club
showed a picture of Agnes W. to the matron, who instantly
discerned a likeness to Inez and informed him of her recent
arrival. Inez was questioned, but could or would give no
satisfactory response concerning her own home. She maintained
she was just 17 and had come to Chicago to make her own way in
the world. After some account of herself, the details of which
were somewhat contradictory, it was inferred that she might be
Agnes W. She vehemently denied it, but being the same age and
some likeness being discerned, the questioning was continued.
Various matters of Agnes W.'s antecedents were gone into and
after a time Inez burst out with, ``Well, if you must have it so,
I am Agnes W.'' The girl was thereupon taken in charge by the
police authorities, and she herself registered several times as
Agnes W. After the family of the latter had been communicated
with, however, it was ascertained that Inez was not the lost
She now said that anyhow she really was a runaway girl. She had
left her adopted parents because they were cruel and immoral. It
was her unhappy brooding over her own affairs that led her to lie
about being the other girl. She insisted she was sorry for the
many lies she had told various officers, but felt, after all,
they were to blame because their obvious desire to have her tell
that she was Agnes W. led her on. They deceived her first
because they misrepresented themselves and did not say they were
police officials. Nevertheless, she makes much of how she hates
her false position, being registered under a false name and
figuring as a deceiver.
The significant points in the long story of Inez, as told to us
in the days of our first acquaintance with her, are worth giving.
(At this period she was with us thoroughly consistent; at all
times she has appeared self-possessed and coherent.) Inez states
she is 17 and has just come from a town in Tennessee where she
has been living for a couple of years with some people by the
name of B. who adopted her. At first they were very good to her
and she loved them dearly. She was quite unsophisticated when
she went to them and did not realize then that they were not good
people. She met them at an employment agency in St. Louis where
she had gone after leaving the Smiths, the people who had brought
her up. At that time the B.'s appeared fairly well-to-do, but
Mr. B. had been running up debts that later carried him into
bankruptcy. Inez was sick and exhausted now from having worked
so hard for them. She finally ran away from that town because
the B.'s wanted to go elsewhere, leaving her in a compromising
position with a young man who rented their house. She first
tried boarding in two places, however, before she ventured to go.
The Smiths were the people she lived with until she was 14. She
remembers first living with them, but faintly recalls bearing the
name of Mary Johnson before that. Who the Johnsons were she does
not know, but she feels sure of the fact that she was born in New
Orleans. However, Inez does not worry about her parentage even